📚Noisy Deadlines

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”– D. Adams
@Fedi

Since Goodreads was bought by Amazon I’ve been trying to find a replacement for my book tracking. Last year I moved over from Goodreads to The Storygraph.

And then I decided to explore the Fediverse using Mastodon and heard about BookWyrm: a federated social network for book lovers. When I knew that I could import my data using a CVS file, I gave it a try. And I’m loving BookWyrm!

Here are the steps I took to make the move:

Choosing an instance and signing up

There is this neat landing page that can help us see the list of available instances and choose one to join. I chose the flagship (the biggest) instance and joined bookwyrm.social. After my request to join was approved I got a message to confirm my email and logged in.

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  1. Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1) by Brandon Sanderson, 656p: This was my first time reading Sanderson and it’s clear he is a great storyteller. It felt a little YA to me, which is not a bad thing, but sometimes it seemed like the book didn't know if it was going to be an adult or a YA story. Nice world-building: the author really takes time to develop the world and bring it to life, without making it boring. The high point of this book was the Magic System based on colors and Breaths. It's intricate and interesting. I like it when magic has rules, restrictions, and costs to the user. There are some good plot twists that caught me totally by surprise.

  2. 100 Things We've Lost to the Internet by Pamela Paul, 288p: I listened to the audiobook and it’s basically a journey through things we used to do before the Internet. It’s funny and light. But I felt it got a little repetitive towards the end.

  3. The Consuming Fire (The Interdependency #2) by John Scalzi, 320p: The second book of the series and very enjoyable, like all Scalzi’s books. We learn lots of secrets about how The Interdependency was created and the Memory Room. There are cool AIs, conspirators, palace intrigues, plot twists, and people getting arrested. It ends in a cliffhanger so I had to jump to the third book right away.

  4. The Last Emperox (The Interdependency #3) John Scalzi, 336p: I thought it was a satisfying end to the trilogy. Discoveries are made, very important people get killed, and more plot twists making the story super engaging. I loved the characters in this series, and also the sci-fi ideas: with star systems risking being disconnected from the rest of the world, how to save everybody? How to save millions of people from a natural disaster? How to avoid the ones in power from being selfish and only saving themselves? I had lots of fun with this series.

  5. The 5th Gender (Tinkered Stars) by G.L. Carriger, 222p: A cozy murder mystery in a spaceship with humans trying to understand aliens and vice-versa. And a romance between a queer detective and a lavender alien with hair tentacles. It plays with the idea of gender and sexual diversity. It’s cute and light-hearted. Warning: It has explicit sexual content.

#readinglist #books #reading

Thoughts? Discuss...


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

I started running again the last couple of weeks. The first week I was running around my neighborhood, mainly a residential area using the sidewalks. But this week I explored a trail that is part of the Trans Canada Trail (aka The Great Trail), which is a cross-Canada system of trails running from the east to the west coast.

In the area near my home, this trail is located where once there was a Railway, so it’s a straight line and connects to cities to the west of Ottawa, which is pretty cool. It should be a nice bike ride (something for later this year).

Trans Canada Trail – I can’t wait to see how the scenery changes from early Spring to Fall

Anyway, I’m still not running 100% of the time, I go for a total distance of 6 km to 7 km (round trip), running for 8 minutes, walking for 2 minutes, and repeating this rhythm till the end. I’ll gradually increase the running time and decrease the rest time as I get more physically fit. I don’t want to hurt myself, and I did the same recipe last year which got me to run non-stop for more than half an hour at a pace of 6:30 min/km after 2-3 months.

#running #journal

Thoughts? Discuss...


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

We have this bookshelf that has never been full. We had it on our previous apartment and when we moved to the townhouse we put it in the living room.

We still don’t have a sofa so our living room looks quite bare right now.

And…you know what? I like it!

I think it’s nice when a room has decor and things hanging on the walls, some of them are really well done. But I don’t see my own space being that busy. First, because I’m frugal, I will never know exactly what to buy and how to coordinate everything. I usually go for practical furniture, that serves a purpose. Second, I don’t like to spend time cleaning stuff. The more items I have the more I need to clean, organize and maintain. I like to live with less. I like to live with the essential. Third, furniture and decor cost money, I don’t like to spend money on things that will not bring value to my life.

I plan on getting a sofa for this room eventually, mostly for the times when we have guests. I still prefer to watch movies or read on the armchair, it’s way better for my back than a sofa.

But for now, the books in this bookshelf are all the physical books I own. They are mostly text-professional related books with no digital alternative or because it was required to have the physical book to write an open-book exam. There are also a couple travel mementos, a thermometer with humidity meter and some reference material from both me and my partner.

This weekend I did some organization on the bookshelf with a few boxes, I filled in two of them, the third one is still empty.

Moving from a one-bedroom apartment to a small townhouse was a huge upgrade for us in terms of having separate spaces. No more having to coordinate time for cooking (which is noisy) when one of us is having a conference call or being distracted by the TV when I wanted to read and my partner was watching a movie. We have our little corners in the house now.

At first I thought that because of the extra space in the townhouse I would turn into a hoarder and start buying all sorts of furniture to fill in spaces to be filled with stuff. But, almost 6 months in, we still have empty corners and empty closets, and that’s okay. I like the minimalist vibe. I hope it stays that way.

#minimalism #house #journal

Thoughts? Discuss...


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

There are things that impact my well-being directly. They are habits that grouped together can become rituals. If I stop doing one of those things, I start to feel off. My anxiety creeps in, I start to feel overwhelmed, I worry too much, my body hurts, I can’t have a good night’s sleep. Some of them are part of my daily habits, others are weekly or monthly habits. I get the best results when I do them regularly.

These are 10 important things I can’t leave without:

  1. Reading books + Book Club: I once wrote about the reasons I’m a reader. I enjoy it because it helps me deal with my busy mind. I’m always having ideas, questions, worries and plans. Reading works like a break: I get away from it all and dive into a different world, so it feels calming to me. It’s also a good concentration exercise. And combining reading with a Book Club makes it even more fun. I get a chance to discuss ideas with other people in a more structured/themed way. I read daily.

  2. Sleeping 7-8 hours a day: I need my sleep. Period. I aim for going to bed at 9:45pm and waking up at 5:15am. It can vary +/– 15 minutes. But I try to keep my sleep routine within this range. I never go to be after 10pm, and if I do I know I’ll be tired and cranky the next day.

  3. Exercise Daily / Yoga: I’ve had a history of debilitating back pain throughout my adult life. It was only after I started exercising regularly, for years, that I became pain free. I’ve learned my lesson: I need to move! So I have a mandatory daily routine: I stretch in the morning. I have a series of stretches I do everyday, no matter what. Then I try to combine it with a yoga session or a series of core strengthening exercises. I usually spend 20 minutes in the morning with this routine everyday. Whenever I can, I add walking, running, cycling, a longer yoga session in the evenings and weekends.

  4. Meditating every morning: I do a minimum of 10 minutes and combine it with my morning exercise, so it has become a ritual. Sometimes if I’m feeling overwhelmed later in the day I will add in another meditation session in the evening/before bed.

  5. Eating healthy and with care due to my gut problems: I have acid reflux and gastritis. It started after I joined the work force, so I think work stress had something to do with it. Anyway, I keep a restricted diet: no coffee, no carbonated drinks of any kind, no alcohol, no acidic foods, no spicy foods, low carbs, restrict lactose and eating in regular intervals. I know that when I indulge in one of those restrictions, my acid reflux flares up, so I home cook my own meals as much as I can and avoid eating out.

  6. Writing: I have a private journal and this blog. Writing gives me time for reflection and gratitude. It helps me clear my thoughts, calm my mind and understand my feelings. I’ve been trying to write daily (either on my private journal or my blog) and this habit seems to be the hardest to keep every day. I love it after I’m done but lately just getting started has been a struggle. I’m working on it.

  7. Having alone time: I’m an introvert so I need alone time once in a while. Reading a book qualifies as alone time to me, but also does listening to music or just sitting down with a cup of tea looking out a window. I need alone time more than ever after a work day with too many meetings, for example. Or even after a Book Club meeting, as much as I enjoy it, I need to recharge for the next couple days. So I try to space out social events.

  8. Listening to music: I remember a time when I would lay down in my bed and listen to a full album, non-stop, and would just look at the ceiling or close my eyes enjoying the music. Sometimes the album told a story, sometimes it made me cry or smile. This was before music streaming and AI generated playlists. I still listen to music, mostly while I’m cooking, exercising, working on something that requires concentration or cleaning the house. It’s usually rock, heavy metal and, lately, folk metal. I have a couple playlists I created myself. It’s rare for me to listen to a full album as I used to. That’s something I’ll start doing more.

  9. Going for walks: I think I underestimated the benefits of a long walk before the COVID-19 pandemic. With the COVID lockdowns, I started to regularly go out for a walk outdoors, since it was the only activity outside I could do safely. My partner joined me, so walking has become our “together-alone” time. It can either be around our neighborhood, in a park, a trail, by the river, doesn’t matter. But walking regularly is a great way to exercise and calm the mind. I prefer not to listen to music or podcasts or anything while walking.

  10. Touch base with family/friends: I’m an immigrant living in a country 10,000 km away from my homeland. It’s easy to feel alone and loose touch with loved ones because of the distance. Since I left Facebook/Instagram, I don’t get any updates or news from people over seas. I keep in touch with friends with messenger groups and I have regular scheduled video calls sessions with my family. Even though the pandemic made it harder to visit them in person, touching base with them regularly makes all the difference, even if it is virtual.

I didn’t know these things were important to me. It took me years and a lot of trial and error to understand the things that keep me a happy human being. Have you ever thought about it?

My favorite place in the morning: where my day starts

#noisymusings #health #habits

Thoughts? Discuss...


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

  1. The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull, 286p: I wanted to have enjoyed this book more, but there was something about it that threw me off. It is unique because the story takes place on St. Thomas Island in our current time. An alien ship lands on the island in 2019. But we don't get to know much about them, only that they want to do some research on the island, they live among the humans peacefully but can become extremely violent if someone annoys them in any way. The aliens are used as an allegory of colonialism, racism, and slavery. And it is all portrayed through the lens of characters, with their personal struggles and thoughts. This book had an eerie feel to it, where I couldn't trust the character’s points of view, it all seemed too surreal to me sometimes. So, I was hoping for more sci-fi alien explorations and this is more like a social commentary on power and occupied territory.

  2. The Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes (The Sandman #1) by Neil Gaiman, 192p: I've heard a lot about this series over the years, but I’ve never actually read it. I gave it a try, and it didn't really catch me. It's probably too dark for my taste as it clearly has horror elements. I didn't like seeing people suffering because of the cruelty of deities, it's not really my thing. The art is beautiful, though.

  3. Heirs of the Blade (Shadows of the Apt #7) by Adrian Tchaikovsky, 622p: In this book, we go to the Commonweal, the land of the Dragonfly-kinden. It is a vast far-away land with mostly inapt inhabitants, and they were partially conquered by the Wasp Empire, but still somewhat kept their ways creating an interesting mix of small Monarchies (Principalities) and Wasp-occupied provinces. There is an epic Weaponmaster duel, featuring Tynisa, the Spider. The first half of the book focuses on Tynisa's explorations in the Commonweal. Through her experience, we can see the duality of the Apt and Inapt worlds, and manifestations of arcane magic. This whole series is an exploration of this duality: the arcane versus technology/science. It seems the Wasp Empire wants to rule with both magic and technology, combining them into a powerful weapon to take over the world. We'll see how that goes.

  4. How to Break Up with Your Phone: The 30-Day Plan to Take Back Your Life by Catherine Price, 192p: Very practical, it presents daily exercises to be done in 30 days, so the chapters are grouped by week, with one activity per day. I enjoyed the activities and they really gave me another level of awareness of my relationship with my phone. Sometimes the exercises were just a few questions that made me reflect on my feelings and physical reactions when I use my phone. It was very interesting. The final exercise is to spend 24 hours without a phone and that was also very enriching. I wrote about some of my takeaways here.

#readinglist #books #reading

Thoughts? Discuss...


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

This month I’ve been reading the book “How to Break Up with your Phone” by Catherine Price. It’s a very practical book with exercises to assess how we use our phones, identify if there’s something we want to change, and change it.

This weekend I did the 24 hours phone separation exercise. For about a month the author proposes some activities to help us prepare for this “trial separation”.

Preparation

The preparation activities included:

  • An assessment of my current relationship with my phone: what do I love about it? What I don’t love about it? What changes do I notice in myself when I pick it up and spend time with it? What would I like my new relationship with my phone to look like?
  • Pay attention and notice the situations in which I use my phone. Does my body posture change? What is my emotional state before and after I use it? How do I feel when I realize I don’t have my phone? How do I feel while I’m using it?
  • Track data: I used the iOS Screen Time feature to analyze how many times I picked up my phone and how I used it throughout 1 week.
    • I picked up my phone 27 times per day
    • I spent 2h 40 min on a daily average
  • Delete all social media apps: I’ve done that a couple of years ago.
  • Build a “speed bump” before I pick up my phone. Ask myself the WWW questions:
    • What For: What am I picking my phone to do?
    • Why Now: Why am I picking up my phone now instead of later?
    • What Else: What else could I do right now besides checking my phone?
  • Get in touch with offline activities I enjoy doing (and do them without my phone)
  • Turn off notifications: I’ve done that a couple of years ago. I leave only notifications from “real people” (phone calls, text messages)
  • Delete unused apps, leave only apps that are “tools”. Delete all other “junk food/slot machine” apps.
  • Reorganize the phone Home Screen. Remove all temptations.
  • Stop, breathe, meditate. Practice mindfulness.
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We’ve had positive temperatures this whole week, and also rain. I’m not wearing my winter coat anymore (you know, the long insulated parka that allows me to walk around when it’s -20C). I can walk around with my short puffy down jacket now and my mild winter boots (not the one with fur inside, rated for -25C).

Snow is melting everywhere, although there are still some ice patches here and there. The trails are starting to get muddy at places, but the one near me still has a squishy snow cover for the most part.

Days are getting longer, so it’s easier to go out for a walk after work. We get back home and there is still some sunlight.

The trees show signs of wanting to sprout some green leaves. There are birds everywhere and we can hear them all the time now. I love this time of year, when colors suddenly come up in all directions.

I’m excited about getting back to running again. I can’t run in the winter, like some people do over snow and ice. My exercise routine this winter was lots of walking and yoga. I still didn’t have the courage to enter a gym because of the pandemic. I’m just waiting for the temperatures to rise to 2 digits (Celsius), then I’ll go out for a run.

Yoga has been great for me actually. I got into the habit of doing 20 minutes every morning after I wake up and my body never felt so good overall. My chronic back pain is gone, and consequently I sleep better now. Sometimes I squeeze in some more intense Vinyasa yoga practice after work or on the weekends and I haven’t had any pains or issues with my back.

Squishy snow and grass and dirt being uncovered

#spring #journal #snow

Thoughts? Discuss...


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

I started using Standard Notes by the end of 2020. I loved the simplicity, the privacy focus, and the syncing between devices. I subscribed to the 5-year extended plan at a discounted price then.

I had thousands of notes in Evernote that were accumulated during 7+ years of use. When I realized that all that information was trapped in one proprietary application, I asked myself: “What if I wanted to move these notes around?”. Also, Evernote got increasingly slower and bulkier. After learning about Markdown and Standard Notes, I exported all my notes from Evernote to the markdown format.

Starting over (almost) from scratch

So I had all my notes backed up in markdown, now what?

I didn’t actually re-imported all of them to Standard Notes. I archived my old notes because I noticed that most of those notes were assorted clippings from the internet. I realized I was a hoarder of information created by other people.

So I started over, copying only a dozen notes that had information I wanted to continue having access to.

As of today, this is how I’m organizing my notes:

(Note: I use nested tags, a feature only available on paid plans in Standard Notes)

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This month I tried some magical realism, continued on the Dresden Files series (it only gets better), read a short urban fantasy and some light non-fiction. I realized books about minimalism aren’t that interesting to me anymore because I already read a lot of them (so I’ll keep that in mind).

  1. The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo, 468p: I was curious to explore some magical realism, and it's probably not my cup of tea. It was very slow and too “dreamy” for me.  The premise is intriguing and what kept me going was the mystery about the lost finger and the weretigers. Lots of people losing fingers on this one. It brings interesting cultural elements, with references to mythology and folklore of Malaysia. I feel Magical realism is not my thing. Everything happens in the real world (1930s colonial Malaysia), real places, real cultural references, but at the same time there is this uncanny mysticism and I don’t trust any of the characters. I think my suspension of disbelief doesn’t work well while reading this genre.

  2. Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles #1) by Ilona Andrews, 225p: A fun quick read. I liked the idea of a Victorian Bed and Breakfast being a cosmic outpost with its own powers. It's a good urban fantasy mixing up space vampires, werewolves, and a badass protagonist (Dina) who is this powerful Innkeeper trying to look normal.

  3. Dead Beat (The Dresden Files #7) by Jim Butcher, 517p: Have I mentioned that I love the titles of this book series? This one has necromancers who want to put their hands on an old lost book that contains forbidden magic powers, so, lots of zombies. Also, vampires because, why not? Harry Dresden finally gets a job with the White Council and starts getting regular income. I hope he is not broke all the time anymore, he deserves it, he's a good guy. Oh, and did I mention zombie dinosaurs?

  4. The Art of Taking It Easy: How to Cope with Bears, Traffic, and the Rest of Life's Stressors by Brian King, 256p: Light and fun read about stress management with touches of personal memoir. The author uses some simplified explanations of how our brain works under stress, as the  “bears vs traffic” argument. I got the analogy, but sometimes traffic is not as harmless as he describes (I think he never had to drive during heavy snowstorm or freezing rain conditions). I had fun, it is humorous and not intended to be an in-depth guide to fight depression or anxiety.

  5. Love People Use Things: Because the Opposite Never Works by Ryan Nicodemus, Joshua Fields Millburn, 320p: I didn't enjoy this book as much as their previous books. Maybe it's because this one didn't bring anything new to me. It has some more personal anecdotes and even childhood pictures from Joshua Millburn. It tries to focus more on relationships and at the end of the chapters, there are some suggested exercises for the reader. And again, since I'm familiar with their work there was nothing fresh for me. But I think it's a good read for people who aren't familiar with minimalism.

#readinglist #books #reading

Thoughts? Discuss...


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

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